Wednesday, September 3, 2014

'Bad Agreement' With Iran Approaching, Missing Libyan Jetliners

Israel Urges U.S. To Oppose Bad Iran Deal

An Israeli delegation is to travel to Washington DC next week to petitionUS officials to take a tough line in renewed talks between major world powers and Iran, in which the sides will discuss the Islamic regime's nuclear program.
"I will travel to Washington next week at the head of an important delegation, in light of what could be the last round of negotiations between world powers and Iran before a November deadline for an agreement," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday.

"If a bad agreement is reached, this will be unacceptable for us," added the minister.
The US and other world powers reached a controversial interim deal with Iran over its nuclear program last November, leading to the current negotiations over a comprehensive agreement. During the talks Iran agreed to limit some of its nuclear activities in order to receive sanctions relief.

However, Iran has been taking an increasingly aggressive line in demanding its "right" to enrich uranium, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently saying Iran "needs" 19 times more nuclear centrifuges than the amount being offered by world powers.
Negotiations have been leading to a July 20 target date, but they wererecently extended until November 24, giving Iran more time to slowly advance its nuclear program. Talks are to open in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly opening on September 16.

While Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Mondayvoiced optimism that an agreement can be reached by the November deadline, Zarif just the day before on Monday warned of “unpleasant” responses to new US sanctions against it.

It is worth noting that Khamenei back in January publicly revealed that the negotiations with the US about Iran's nuclear program are part of a tactic to stall international pressure and gain time to continue Iran's nuclear program.

Iran has also been active in attacking Israel, with a senior Iranian officialrevealing last month that the Islamic regime is arming terrorists in Judea and Samaria, and vowed it would continue supporting “the resistance” against Israel.

An IDF source revealed last month that in addition to supplying weapons, Iran also launched a cyber war on Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

US lawmakers Tuesday called for Secretary of State John Kerry to present administration policy for “rolling back” the Islamic State’s gains, after the rampaging group claimed it beheaded a second American.

With members of the House and Senate warning that President Barack Obama has not done enough to combat the extremist group, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said he was summoning Kerry to testify once Congress returns next week from its recess.

“Everyone agrees that the administration needs a strategy, that the president has to explain to the American people and explain to Congress how we are going to meet this threat,” the Republican Royce told reporters on a phone call from Israel, where he was on a congressional mission.

He said he expected Kerry to present a plan for “rolling back ISIS,” another name to describe the extremist group that on Tuesday released a video purporting to show the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.

“We anticipate there would be a vote for authorization of the use of force” before the 60-day period expires, Royce said.
On Sunday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein warned that Obama was not doing enough to tackle the IS threat.
“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious,” Feinstein told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.
Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.
“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

The official said the aircraft are a serious counterterrorism concern because reports of terrorist control over the Libyan airliners come three weeks before the 13th anniversary of 9/11 attacks and the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the Benghazi attack, which the Obama administration initially said was the result of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim video.
A senior State Department counterterrorism official declined to comment on reports of the stolen jetliners.

The aircraft were reportedly taken in late August following the takeover of Tripoli International Airport, located about 20 miles south of the capital, by Libyan Dawn.
Al Jazeera television reported in late August that western intelligence reports had warned of terror threats to the region from 11 stolen commercial jets.
In response, Tunisia stopped flights from other Libyan airports at Tripoli, Sirte, and Misrata over concerns that jets from those airports could be on suicide missions.
Egypt’s government also halted flights to and from Libya.
Military forces in North Africa, including those from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt have been placed on heightened alert as a result of intelligence warning of the stolen aircraft.
Egyptian military jets reportedly have conducted strikes inside Libya against Libyan Dawn positions recently, and U.S. officials said there are signs a larger Egyptian military incursion is being planned.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi was quoted as denying Egyptian air strikes into Libya have taken place but suggested that military action is being considered.

Counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka said that if the theft is confirmed, the stolen aircraft could be used in at least two ways.
“The first would be how commercial airliners were used on Sept. 11, 2001, literally turning an innocent mode of mass transit into a super-high precision guided missile of immense potency,” said Gorka, who holds the Maj. Gen. Charles Horner chair at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va.
“The second tactic could be to use the airframe with its civilian markings as a tool of deception to insert a full payload of armed terrorists into a locale that otherwise is always open to commercial carriers,” he said.
Michael Rubin, a counterterrorism specialist with the American Enterprise Institute, said commercial jetliners in the hands of terrorists could be formidable weapons.
“Who needs ballistic missiles when you have passenger planes? Even empty, but loaded up with fuel they can be as devastating,” Rubin said.
“Each plane could, if deployed by terrorists to maximum devastating effect, represent 1,000 civilian casualties.”
Among the potential targets are urban areas and economic targets, like Saudi Arabia’s oil fields.

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

MSF told a UN briefing in New York that world leaders were failing to address the epidemic and called for an urgent global biological disaster response to get aid and personnel to west Africa.

"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat," said MSF international president Joanne Liu.
"The (World Health Organization) announcement on August 8 that the epidemic constituted a 'public health emergency of international concern' has not led to decisive action, and states have essentially
joined a global coalition of inaction."
Her comments came as a third American health worker tested positive for the deadly virus while working with patients in Liberia, the worst-hit country.

Unlike the others, the latest US victim had not been working directly with Ebola patients, and it is not yet clear how he caught the disease, which is usually fatal.
Liu called for the international community to fund more beds for a regional network of field hospitals, dispatch trained personnel and deploy mobile laboratories across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

MSF said that while its care centres in Liberia and Sierra Leone were overcrowded, people were continuing to die in their communities.
"In Sierra Leone, highly infectious bodies are rotting in the streets," their statement said.
At current infection rates, the agency fears it could take six to nine months and at least $490 million (373 million euros) to bring the outbreak under control, by which time more than 20,000 people could be affected.

Leading international health officials said Tuesday that the Ebola epidemicin West Africa is accelerating and the window for getting it under control is closing.
“Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Joanne Liu, international president of medical charity Doctors Without Borders, said in a briefing at the United Nations. She faulted world leaders for failing to recognize the severity of the crisis sooner and said charities and West African governments alone do not have the capacity to stem the outbreak.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, who returned Monday from a week-long trip to the countries hardest hit by the epidemic — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — said he was shocked by how rapidly the disease is spreading.

There is widespread transmission in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and a troubling spike in cases in Guinea, which until now has had more success controlling the outbreak, he said. That increase has taken place in one community, where many have resisted preventive measures such as spraying bleach, and mistakenly believe the measures are spreading Ebola.
“There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down, but that window is closing,” Frieden said. “We need action now to scale up, and we need to scale up to massive levels . . . I cannot overstate the need for an urgent response,” he said.

Liu described overwhelmed isolation centers, riots breaking out over controversial quarantines, infected bodies lying in the streets, medical workers dying in shocking numbers, entire health systems crumbling and Ebola wards with such scant resources that they are little more than where “people go to die alone.
“We are in uncharted waters,” she said. “[Doctors Without Borders] has been ringing alarm bells for months, but the response has been too late, too little.”

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